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I’ve been asked to write a blog entry. I’ve got nothing of any importance to say and, worse of all, nothing that anyone should waste their time reading. But as we have a blog it needs to be kept up to date, and in the absence of anything worth reading, with utter drivel.
And that says everything about the digital age. The cost barriers to becoming a publisher in the digital age are next to nothing, and so any wannabe journalist can tap away on their keyboards.
Does anyone read the nonsense that most of them churn out? Does anyone care what people say on their blog? In most cases, the answer is almost certainly no.
But occasionally, one of those wannabe journalist’s followers could be a real journalist – one who writes for an influential trade website or, perhaps, a national newspaper.
And there are cases when major national stories that have been damning of a company or product have started from a blog written on a kitchen computer.
The threat that this poses means that those of us in the communications industry need to be aware of these new digital threats to an organisation’s reputation and put in place strategies to ensure that online content is monitored and issues dealt with before they can escalate.
With the numbers of people posting content soaring, it’s clear that monitoring and responding to bloggers can be a burden for any organisation, but can such reputational threats be buried under the carpet?
Online should be treated like any other channel of communication. The first step to addressing the challenge is to identify which bloggers carry influence. Fortunately, there are tools and people to help.
Benjamin Franklin once said: “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”
That may sound a bit dramatic, but essentially it’s true. Think of BP’s reputation before the ‘Deepwater Horizon’ disaster last year. It wasn’t so much the estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil that were spilt into the Gulf of Mexico that damaged its reputation; it was more BP’s response at the time of the crisis, specifically that of its chief executive.
Bell Pottinger North builds and manages better reputations for its clients and in today’s turbulent economic climate, this has never been more important. Despite the doom and gloom, UK plc is being advised to spend, invest and grow its way out of the economic crisis. In times of uncertainty and prudent spending, a brand’s reputation is key and offers the reassurance for consumers to spend in austere times.
The worrying thing though is that ‘trust’ seems to have been one of the victims of the downturn. Companies and organisations that have continued to invest in their brands, communicate effectively and build on effective credibility base will be best placed to survive and thrive in the future.
In the majority of sectors, credibility, trust and reputation is the core of your proposition. It’s vital then to protect this reputation no matter how squeezed the budget is. That’s exactly where PR can help – a clearly planned and targeted communications campaign will help to develop and protect a company’s reputation, giving its customers the trust they need to carry on spending and ensuring the maximum positive impact on the bottom line.
As Bill Gates once said: “If I was down to my last dollar of my marketing budget, I’d spend it on PR!”